Skyscraper City Forum banner
1 - 20 of 37 Posts

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
The creation of this thread was prompted by a little project that I had been delving into: a comparison between Baltimore’s City Center and Center City Philadelphia. It happens pretty frequently on this forum that we compare Downtown Baltimore with Center City Philly.

In many ways, Center City is the downtown that most resembles Baltimore’s. The architecture is similar as is the layout. They’re not twins, but they share more with one another than they do with most other cities. Nevertheless, there’s also the theme that Center City is just more vibrant than downtown Baltimore. More people, more businesses, more activity.

I cobbled together some data to try to get a handle on how downtown Baltimore and Center City might be similar or different. The results were a bit surprising to me. Maybe you’ll agree.

First, just an interesting fact about Center City – by some metrics Greater Center City claims to be the most populous downtown after Midtown Manhattan. Center City itself is only about 2 square miles, but Greater Center City is 7.7 square miles. It includes Center City itself, plus an expanded area of urban neighborhoods. In 2015, it had an estimated population of 183,240. That gives a population density of 23,797 residents per square mile.

Baltimore traditionally defines its downtown as anything within a 1-mile radius of Light and Pratt (or Charles and Baltimore). That gives it an area of 3.14 square miles. Traditionally, we expect that the population of that area is 37,000, often rounded up to 40,000.

It’s hard to compare the two because their boundaries are somewhat arbitrary. So, I wanted to see if I could carve out an area in Baltimore of similar size, and see what I could find. Here’s what I came up with:

I basically started in in Baltimore’s traditional downtown and Inner Harbor census tracts (040100 and 220100) and then spiraled outward to encompass as many census tracts as I could until I got somewhere in the vicinity of 7.7 square miles.

The map is below. It includes Downtown, Midtown up to North Avenue, the segments of East and West Baltimore that are most adjacent to downtown, and the entire South Baltimore peninsula. It is just a guess, but I think it makes as much sense as any.

I then looked at some census data for this area: population, housing units, and density. The results, I think, might help shed some light on why our downtown does not feel as vibrant as Philly’s.

Certainly, Center City’s vibrancy is boosted by its greater worker population and tourism, but I think it is fair to make the assumption that resident population plays a significant role in Center City’s bustle. Particularly so because, unlike most other major cities, Center City did not experience the same population decline during the latter half of the 20th century. Center City’s residents largely stuck around.

Looking at the resident population -- Over roughly the same land area, we have just half the population: 183,000 vs. 92,000. In terms of population density, it’s 24,000 vs. 14,500. (NOTE: These numbers compare Philly’s 2015 numbers with Baltimore’s 2010 numbers. Presumably, this part of Baltimore grew somewhat in those five years).

Unfortunately, I don’t have numbers for Center City for the number of housing units or the average household population, but I did include those numbers below for Baltimore.

You can see that only five of the 38 census tracts for Baltimore exceed the average population density of Center City.

The lesson shouldn’t be surprising – Baltimore probably needs to increase its city center population to match the vibrancy of Center City. That’s probably not news to anyone. But I thought this data helped shed some light on how much we need to grow and where our city center can absorb additional housing and population.

Granted, you could probably generate a somewhat higher city center population for Baltimore if you scrapped some of the industrial areas in South Baltimore and stretched the map farther east towards Highlandtown, where some of the highest-density areas of the city area, but to me, South Baltimore was more downtown than Highlandtown. Just a personal judgment.

I’ll also add that you can see how developments like Port Covington, Old Town, State Center, Harbor Point, Penn Station, and others will help to add significant population to this central area.

Lastly, that rectangle in the middle – census tract 100300 – is the prison. It’s population density is the highest in the city, but I excluded it for obvious reasons.

Anyway, thought this might be of interest to some of you as it was to me.



Greater Baltimore City Center Map:




Census Tracts:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,529 Posts
Before 414 Light, Baltimore was tied for 144th place with 3 buildings over 150 meters, the usual definition of a true skyscraper...a bit less than 500 feet. Now that 414 is topped out, Baltimore has risen to a tie for 128th.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have two questions about census data that perhaps someone can answer for me.


1. Can someone elaborate on some of the differences between the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey? Often, the numbers presented in each are so materially different that it is difficult to compare them.

As an example, consider Baltimore’s downtown census tract – 40100. The Decennial Census gave it a 2010 population of 4,006 people. The ACS gave it a 2010 population of 2,996. According to the ACS, population in that census tract has grown every year, and had a 2016 population of 3,868 people.

The 2010 ACS population was just 75 percent of the 2010 Decennial population. The ACS population grew 29 percent from 2010-2016, but its 2016 population was still only 96 percent of the 2010 Decennial population. If you were to compare ACS numbers with ACS numbers, you would see a population increase, but if you compare ACS with Dicennial, you see a decrease.

Is one more correct than the other?


2. I saw this graph posted on social media. It shows that Baltimore had the lowest number of residential permits issued per capita in 2017 of the major cities listed. Supposedly, the data comes from the Census Building Permits Survey. I was unable to recreate the data, but the chart seems to suggest that Baltimore issued just 600 or fewer housing units last year. That seemed unlikely to me. Anyone have any insight on that?

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
891 Posts
I have two questions about census data that perhaps someone can answer for me.


1. Can someone elaborate on some of the differences between the Decennial Census and the American Community Survey? Often, the numbers presented in each are so materially different that it is difficult to compare them.

As an example, consider Baltimore’s downtown census tract – 40100. The Decennial Census gave it a 2010 population of 4,006 people. The ACS gave it a 2010 population of 2,996. According to the ACS, population in that census tract has grown every year, and had a 2016 population of 3,868 people.

The 2010 ACS population was just 75 percent of the 2010 Decennial population. The ACS population grew 29 percent from 2010-2016, but its 2016 population was still only 96 percent of the 2010 Decennial population. If you were to compare ACS numbers with ACS numbers, you would see a population increase, but if you compare ACS with Dicennial, you see a decrease.

Is one more correct than the other?


2. I saw this graph posted on social media. It shows that Baltimore had the lowest number of residential permits issued per capita in 2017 of the major cities listed. Supposedly, the data comes from the Census Building Permits Survey. I was unable to recreate the data, but the chart seems to suggest that Baltimore issued just 600 or fewer housing units last year. That seemed unlikely to me. Anyone have any insight on that?

Nobody will confirm this, but I believe that Baltimore City doesn't complete its building permit survey for reports properly (or perhaps at all.) The number of building permits per 1,000 was probably around 4.

In response to question 1: I treat the ACS and decennial Census number of similar but different counts that will never ever match up. I prefer to cobble post 2010 ACS trends onto 2010 counts for what I think are the most reliable numbers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
891 Posts
Nobody will confirm this, but I believe that Baltimore City doesn't complete its building permit survey for reports properly (or perhaps at all.) The number of building permits per 1,000 was probably around 4.

In response to question 1: I treat the ACS and decennial Census number of similar but different counts that will never ever match up. I prefer to cobble post 2010 ACS trends onto 2010 counts for what I think are the most reliable numbers.
I looked it up, and as best I can figure out, the city reported permits for 438 housing units in 2017. Gotta be right... its the Census!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
891 Posts
Thanks for shedding some light on those questions.

Am I correct that you track permits as well? Do those numbers sound plausible to you?
Not plausible at all. Its hard to say exactly when I should count a count a construction start, but my best guess estimate is 2,250 to 2,500 in 2017 and almost that many the year before. I believe that this year will be below 2,000.
 

·
Let's Revive our Cities
Joined
·
2,616 Posts
The total population of Baltimore is still falling, albeit much slower than before.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/baltimores-population-decline-continues-census-estimates-show/2018/04/05/3973ef34-2ee4-11e8-8688-e053ba58f1e4_story.html?utm_term=.3f6fc479ad38

The population dropped another 5300 to 611,648, after falling 6000 the year before. The article breaks it down to 1600 more births than deaths and 2300 moving in. 9200 left the city for other places. Baltimore County managed to add 1000 residents in one year while Howard County added 4300.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
891 Posts
I took a look at the geographic mobility reporting (B07013) to see if there was a slowdown in people moving to the City that could account for the 2016 population loss. The population moving into the City was up from 2015 and one of the best years in the past decade. In other words, any change in the move-in trend that showed up in the American Community Survey was positive. The population loss showed up in a big drop in people moving within the city, (with only a slight decline in people staying in there same city home.)

At this point I think I can create a profile of the median person leaving the City in 2016. That person was male, non-working, and mixed-race. The age of the median leaver is a bit unclear since the big age loss years were in the 5 to 9 and 20 to 24 year-old age groups. Since 20 to 24 year-old's are unlikely to have children over 5 years old, people in these age groups were probably not moving as families. Since 5 to 9 year-old's aren't working at all and many 20 to 24 year-old's are still in school - I guess that helps explain how employment could increase by 13K (Labor Force up 10K) in the face of a 7K population loss. It would appear that the most of the people leaving were not in the Labor Force.

Even though it is likely that the median person leaving the City stayed in Maryland, Baltimore County's receipt of households from other parts of the state was down significantly. The ACS seems to hint that an unusually large percentage of people leaving the City moved out of Maryland.

I believe that there is no possible policy initiative that could address the loss of folks like the median person, so the ACS offers us no guidance whatsoever. I don't really have anything against the median leaver. He is probably doing better elsewhere, but it is safe to say that he wasn't adding much to the city's economy before he left.

Now we have a five month wait for the 2017 ACS.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Not plausible at all. Its hard to say exactly when I should count a count a construction start, but my best guess estimate is 2,250 to 2,500 in 2017 and almost that many the year before. I believe that this year will be below 2,000.
Do these permit numbers factor in any way into the ACS population estimates? If the city is not submitting this information correctly or at all, and the counts are lower than they should be, would have affect the population estimates in any way?
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Since homicide figures are a recurring theme in Baltimore development discussions, I have a question about how they are calculated. There seem to be some pretty quirky rules. For example, many mass shooting victims are not counted. Las Vegas, for example, did not include the 58 victims of the 2017 shooting in its numbers for that year. I assume there is some political maneuvering at play there.

But one that stumps me are victims like James King. He was the victim of a shooting in 1999. He died as a result of his gunshot wound in 2017, but it wasn't until 2018 that the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. My understanding is that his death will be counted towards Baltimore's 2018 numbers. Does anyone know why it works that way? It seems like the least accurate representation of the occurrence from a crime-rate perspective.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,529 Posts
I would think it's to have a consistent rule. It's not a homicide until someone is dead, although I don't get why they would count that one in 2018 if he died in 2017. These things should even out over time, as some shot this year will die in later years, and be counted then.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The Census Bureau’s Housing Unit estimates were released in May. For Baltimore, it shows a decline of 294 units over the past year.

Here are the numbers going back to 2010:

2010 296,685 (Decennial Census)
2010 296,712 (Estimate Base)
2010 296,442
2011 295,678
2012 295,504
2013 295,062
2014 295,118
2015 294,731
2016 294,790
2017 294,496

This compares interestingly to an increase of a little more than 4,000 households between 2010 and 2016.

2010 238,392
2011 238,959
2012 240,630
2013 241,455
2014 242,212
2015 242,268
2016 242,416

Certainly, these numbers are compatible; there are still 50,000 more housing units than there are households. I have no idea if that is too many, too few, or just right. It makes sense that inventory should exceed occupancy to some degree. I compared it to notoriously-housing-crunched San Francisco County, which had 356,797 households in 2016 and 397,550 housing units, or a ratio of 0.89 compared to 0.82 for Baltimore.

In any event, I am more interested in Baltimore’s decline in housing units, a problem that SF doesn’t have, of course.

Losing 294 units in 2016 struck me as odd, since we seem to be building several hundreds to several thousand new units every year. I can’t imagine we’re losing that many more. Even if we didn’t build a single new unit, that loss equates to losing 1 out of every 1,000 units. That seems really high, and is quite a bit higher than the 2017 Housing Unit Loss Rates for the Northeast Region that the Census Bureau uses to calculate its estimates.

I wonder if this is another instance that might stem from Baltimore not reporting its new housing numbers correctly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,529 Posts
The Census Bureau’s Housing Unit estimates were released in May. For Baltimore, it shows a decline of 294 units over the past year.

Here are the numbers going back to 2010:

2010 296,685 (Decennial Census)
2010 296,712 (Estimate Base)
2010 296,442
2011 295,678
2012 295,504
2013 295,062
2014 295,118
2015 294,731
2016 294,790
2017 294,496

This compares interestingly to an increase of a little more than 4,000 households between 2010 and 2016.

2010 238,392
2011 238,959
2012 240,630
2013 241,455
2014 242,212
2015 242,268
2016 242,416

Certainly, these numbers are compatible; there are still 50,000 more housing units than there are households. I have no idea if that is too many, too few, or just right. It makes sense that inventory should exceed occupancy to some degree. I compared it to notoriously-housing-crunched San Francisco County, which had 356,797 households in 2016 and 397,550 housing units, or a ratio of 0.89 compared to 0.82 for Baltimore.

In any event, I am more interested in Baltimore’s decline in housing units, a problem that SF doesn’t have, of course.

Losing 294 units in 2016 struck me as odd, since we seem to be building several hundreds to several thousand new units every year. I can’t imagine we’re losing that many more. Even if we didn’t build a single new unit, that loss equates to losing 1 out of every 1,000 units. That seems really high, and is quite a bit higher than the 2017 Housing Unit Loss Rates for the Northeast Region that the Census Bureau uses to calculate its estimates.

I wonder if this is another instance that might stem from Baltimore not reporting its new housing numbers correctly.
Are more vacant units being demolished than are being completed? How many of the 52,000 unit difference are places that can actually be lived in?
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I'm sure that accounts for some of it, but it can't be the total. Project CORE, which recently changed its criteria to count all vacants demolished by the state, city, and private contractors, has only demolished 1,400 buildings throughout the entire life of the project. It only has plans to demolish another 500 at the moment.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
7,023 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Election data from the 2018 primary has been trickling out. I noticed an interesting figure.

Between the 2014 primary and the 2018 primary, voter registration in Baltimore City increased by about 11,000 people. I found that interesting given that population supposedly declined by 12,000 over that period.

Certainly, those things are not inherently contradictory, but it may also lend support to the idea that the folks moving to the city are wealthier, more educated, and more civically engaged.
 
1 - 20 of 37 Posts
Top